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06th Jul 2023

“He’s one player you could make an example out of” – Getting dropped only drove Monaghan on further

Niall McIntyre

Back where he belongs now.

Galway were beginning to falter in the All-Ireland quarter final when, like a train on tracks, Thomas Monaghan came flying in to blow Tipperary out of the way.

It was the classic case of a sub sending their manager a message.

Monaghan isn’t used to it these days – barring injuries, this is the only championship game he hasn’t started under Henry Shefflin – and, there and then in the Gaelic Grounds, why that’s the case was plain to see.

You’d suspect that, having scored three from play in 15 minutes, Monaghan did more than enough to re-claim his starting spot for this Saturday’s All-Ireland semi-final against Limerick.

He hit four in the corresponding fixture last year, troubling the champs with a display that sealed his first All-Star nomination, and, ask any Limerick fan and they’ll tell you, his speed presents a headache they’d rather do without.

When it was put up to him a fortnight ago, Monaghan rose to the challenge. But it wasn’t his first rodeo from that perspective.

Alongside Davy Glennon and Eanna Burke, Monaghan was one of the three Galway players who were dropped from the senior hurling panel by Shane O’Neill in February 2020.

At 22 years of age, and having made his senior debut for the county three years previously, this was a setback that could have sent the former minor star one of two ways.

But as his club-man and as the manager who gave him his debut for the Craughwell senior hurling team, Stephen Glennon wasn’t one bit surprised when Monaghan came back twice as strong. Literally.

“I had a chat with Tom not long after he was dropped,” says Glennon, who works as an editor for the Tuam Herald.

“It was during the Covid, and he had told me that between himself and his brothers Mark and Patrick, they had converted the garage into a gym.”

“Some lads when they get dropped, they might go off and have a good time, and take to a softer lifestyle, but that’s not in Thomas’ DNA,” says Glennon.

“He knew he had to improve and he went away and worked on it.”

Disappointed at being dropped, Davy Glennon asked Shane O’Neill what he had to improve on. He was told that his ‘explosive pace’ needed work and he suspects that Monaghan was told he needed to bulk up.

“You can take it one way or the other,” says the former All-Ireland winning hurler.

“It took a massive commitment to do what he did. How many players in Galway have won minor and u21s, and haven’t taken the step to senior level, they get lost in the woods.

“But he’s one player you could make an example out of,” says Glennon, “to come from that massive low to building yourself back up again.”

So what is it actually like? To go from an inter-county panel member to being left out in the cold, having to train on your own if you have the ambition.

“What I did was I got onto the Galway S and C coach Lukasz Kirszenstein,” says Glennon, “I did personal training sessions as well with Brendan Egan and with David O’Dea. So I got the ideas from them and did those sessions.

“And it would have been the same for Thomas.”

“He’s a very bubbly fella, great fun, but behind it all, he’s very sensible and dedicated, and the Monaghans are a huge hurling family.”

In Craughwell, Stephen Glennon says that the Monaghans are as respected and as popular a hurling family as there is.

12 March 2023; Referee Colm Lyons keeps a close eye as Tom Monaghan of Galway strikes the sliotar during the Allianz Hurling League Division 1 Group B match between Clare and Galway at Cusack Park in Ennis, Clare. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

“The Monaghans are so well-regarded.

“Mark runs our easter hurling camp and the Cúl camp. And Thomas is the teacher in the school since last year, teaching my son, and he’s very fair, he looks out for them.

“People love having him around there, the lads come home and they’re all excited to see their teacher playing in Croke Park.”

Don’t be surprised if he has another big day this Saturday…

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